A sustainable future
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has spent decades investigating and planning ways to ensure that we have a more sustainable water supply for the future.
The Port Macquarie Reclaimed Water Plant is an integral part of the plan.
The plant will take a leaf out of nature's book by recycling our old water.
Using advanced technologies such as microfiltration and reverse osmosis, the facility will be able to turn 1 - 2 million litres (megalitres ML) of treated effluent into crystal clear new reclaimed water every day.
This means that in the Hastings, we will be able to use our water at least twice before putting it back into the natural water cycle.
How is reclaimed water created?
Treated effluent, which is 99.9% water, will be piped directly into the Hindman Street plant.
A multiple barrier treatment process is used to ensure that only the highest quality (six star) water is produced.
This approach is supported by highly credible agencies such as the US Environmental
Protection Authority and World Health Organisation in their guideline documents.
The plant will be fully-automated and the computers are programmed to automatically shutdown faulty equipment and to send an alert out to the Council. Constant online monitoring and water quality testing will also be used to alert Council if any one of the seven treatment process barriers should fail.
The seven protective barriers -
Barrier 1: Chloramination Disinfection
Treated effluent, which is 99.9% water, enters the plant and is disinfected with chloramines (chlorine joined with ammonia) to kill bacteria. Chloramines have the advantage of lasting longer in water than chlorine. This helps to ensure the reclaimed water continues to be disinfected on its journey from the plant through the purple recycled water pipelines to the taps. Chloramines are also more resistant to being broken down by ultraviolet light which is the next step in the treatment barrier.
Barrier 2: Ultraviolet Light Disinfection
The disinfected water flows through an Ultraviolet Light Disinfection Unit. The ultraviolet light is hundreds of times more powerful than sunlight. It kills bacteria and viruses and inactivates parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
Barrier 3: Straining out larger contaminants
Larger contaminants that we can see are captured as the disinfected water flows through the self cleaning strainer. Like the name suggests, the strainer is programmed to clean itself regularly to ensure that it is in top working order! After passing through the strainer the water enters the Microfiltration Unit.
Barrier 4: Microfiltration
Water is sucked up through hollow membrane fibres which have tiny 0.04 micron holes. Water molecules are small enough to pass through, but bacteria, parasites and most contaminants are too big and get left behind. The filtered water is piped into a holding tank ready for reverse osmosis.
Barrier 5: Reverse Osmosis
The filtered water is then pushed through membranes with even smaller holes (0.0001 micron) in a process called "reverse osmosis". The holes are so small that bacteria, viruses, salts and chemicals cannot pass through. The water that passes through the reverse osmosis treatment barrier is of six star quality and is called "reclaimed water".
Barrier 6: Ultraviolet Light Disinfection
The reclaimed water passes through another Ultraviolet Light Disinfection Unit which is capable of destroying organic chemicals. Its cleansing rays can also kill viruses and bacteria and inactivate parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
Barrier 7: Sodium Hypochlorite Disinfection
The 'new' reclaimed water that is produced at the end of the process is more pure than drinking water.
The water will be topped up with chlorine to keep it clean on its journey through the new network of purple pipes to the Morton Street Reclaimed Water Reservoir.
From the reservoir it will be piped to sporting fields and commercial premises to be used for irrigation, toilet flushing, car washing and dust suppression.
A safe and separate system
The non potable Reclaimed Water Supply will be kept completely separate from the potable Town Water Supply.
It will be stored in a separate reservoir in Morton Street and travel in separately marked purple pipes. Commercial premises using reclaimed water will have separate purple reclaimed water meters.
Reclaimed water taps turn in the opposite direction to drinking water taps. The tap handles are required to be removed when not in use. All taps will have bright yellow signs advising people not to drink the reclaimed water.
Reclaimed water will only be supplied to selected businesses and sporting fields. User agreements will be implemented at each site which outline the responsibilities of Council and the reclaimed water users.
Specially trained plumbers will be used to connect the reclaimed water to these properties.